The Osa Peninsula on Costa Rica’s southern shores is a special region. It is a destination that is ideal for a unique outdoors, off-the-grid adventure. You will find yourself surrounded by fun, sun, and lots of options to explore nature. While somewhat isolated, Osa still has good options for vacationing comfortably and dining gourmet, vegan, or vegetarian. Be sure to start with a meal at Kalaluna Bistro in Drake Bay (Bahía Drake). You will want to keep returning to Kalaluna Bistro! I encourage you to try a variety of dishes. Try things that you have never seen or eaten before; this is part of your portfolio of “cultural exploration” experiences.
Make it a point to eat well while you are traveling in Costa Rica. Enjoy Costa Rica’s fresh (often organic) produce, tropical fruits, dairy, seafood, and of course, Costa Rican coffee! Ask about the town’s Green Market or Central Market (Mercado Central). It is amusing to wander around the markets and see the colorful displays of fruits and vegetables –and everything else! These are brought to town by farm families and local artisans. Certainly, you can negotiate, but usually, prices are fair and the same from one seller to another. Be generous. These are hard-working people supporting children and families. Feel free to practice your Spanish or, let them practice their English.
If you want to just get away and experience tropics and surfing, plan your vacation in Drake Bay. It is a unique off-the-grid vacation experience. At about 8.5 degrees north of the Equator, in many ways the Osa Peninsula is Costa Rica’s frontier. It is remote and does not receive high numbers of tourists like Jacó, Manuel Antonio, or Nicoya Peninsula further north. One of the main Osa destinations is Bahía Drake (Drake Bay).
There are many things to do around Drake Bay and the Osa Peninsula. Working up an appetite for great meals is easy to do. You can just hang out or stay busy visiting different beaches and checking out surfing spots around the peninsula.
The two beaches closest to Kalaluna Bistro are San Josecito and Cocalito beaches. Playa Cocalito is a good beach for beginning surfers. Both beaches are walking distance from Kalaluna Bistro along the beautiful Drake Bay Hiking Trail. Likewise, there are great snorkeling and scuba spots, especially around Isla de Caño. Order a picnic at Kalaluna Bistro and head out to the island for the day!
Be sure to take a hike either on your own or with a guide in Corcovado National Park. Another option is to explore the park and see the waterfalls on horseback. Corcovado Park is an extremely diverse tropical area and it is the last primary coastal rainforest on Earth. It covers nearly half of the Osa Peninsula and has the largest lowland rainforest in Central America. Finally, ask about a charter fishing trip or whale and dolphin excursions. Whale watching is a popular activity around Osa. Humpback whales and their calves are often sighted from August to December. Dolphins are around all year long.
Kalaluna Bistro is located at the end of Drake Bay, next to the Jinetes de Osa hotel. It is a 3-4 minute walk towards the beach along the pathway that is part of the coastal hiking trail. Many visitors arrive by boat. Kalaluna is a popular lunch destination for sailboat day excursions and yacht captains. Besides great gourmet meals, natural fruit drinks, or cocktails; the views and atmosphere in the Bistro is welcoming and family-style. It is the place to come to relax, laugh, and indulge.
Kalaluna Bistro supports local commerce by buying locally grown produce and fish from local fishermen. The menu at Kalaluna Bistro is a collection of gourmet specialties along with typical Costa Rican favorites. Each plate is like an artist’s creation, delightful to the eye, and delicious to eat after hiking or surfing.
In fact, the menu selections at Kalaluna bring together foods and flavors literally from around the world. You will discover international wines, Italian, Arab, European, Spanish, French, Asian, African, North American, Caribbean; and of course, Costa Rican, flavors. Who could expect differently from two gourmet chefs who have spent their lives cooking and traveling across the continents?
While the dining area is casual and laid-back, the kitchen at Kalaluna Bistro is disciplined and marching. In fact, the kitchen is a dynamic choreography of practiced, flashing hands that are busily chopping, stirring, and serving. At first glance, this combination of casual with precisely practiced tasks might seem like opposing settings. However, in many ways, it reflects the friendly and professional styles of the owners, Chefs Claudio and Shirley.
Chef Claudio is an Italian world traveler, having worked across Europe, Africa, Middle East, and throughout the Caribbean Islands. With a smile, Chef Claudio says that his travels reached a high point when became the chef at the Jinetes de Osa. This is where he met his wife, Chef Shirley, who is from Costa Rica and is also a world traveler.
While Chefs Claudio and Shirley love preparing meals to delight Kalaluna guests, they also enjoy every conversation with visitors. Not only are they glad for your feedback, but they also want to know about you! They are curious about where you are from, what brings you to Osa, and your other travel experiences. In fact, for the Chefs, your culinary satisfaction is just as important as your overall vacation-dining experience at Kalaluna Bistro.
On the Bistro wall or on the Kalaluna website, you might see a bold message. It says, “Symphony with 4 hands for an orchestra of delicacies and flavors”.
Being the curious editor that I am, I asked them what this means for them. Chef Claudio explained that it is about creating and “composing”. Usually, we think about “composing” in terms of music and orchestras, and sometimes of dance, he told me. However, it could also be food and flavors; culinary presentations, and combinations.
As it happens, Chef Claudio is both a professional pianist and composer; Chef Shirley is an artist. Kalaluna Bistro brings culture and art to life through the talents of its owners. They describe the Kalaluna Bistro kitchen and staff as a culinary orchestra; working together in practiced harmony to prepare orders. In this special “restaurant-orchestra”, these talented and charming Chefs are the composers, conductors, and sometimes the musicians. Like instruments in an orchestra, on a great stage overlooking Drake Bay; they make a fabulous symphony of savory cuisines.
From jungle hikes to marine excursions, there are many off-the-beaten-path nature surprises around the Osa Peninsula. It is an authentic Costa Rican beach town experience. On the southern Pacific coast, Drake Bay is remote and not overwhelmed with tourists. In spite of being remote, the area offers some unexpected, but wonderful and comfortable accommodations and diverse dining options. Treat yourself to a delicious and very enjoyable gourmet surprise at Kalaluna Bistro.
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